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DRCNet on Drug Reform Lobbying...Please read and make a difference!

Discussion in 'Legalization and Activism' started by RMJL, Aug 7, 2003.

  1. Hey guys! I got this email today from the Drug Reform Coordination Network. They have some great ideas as to how we can attempt to make a difference.

    I hope everyone takes the time to read it and act on it!

    Dear friend of drug policy reform:

    August has begun, and with it the US Congress has gone into
    recess and its Senators and Representatives have returned
    to their districts and states. This is the ideal time to
    pay a visit to their local offices and make the case for
    and against current legislation of importance in drug
    policy. Get some friends or family members to go with you
    in a group! Below we list some issues and bills to bring
    up when you do, with instructions for figuring out where to
    go and suggestions for when you do. Please write us at
    alert-feedback@drcnet.org (mailto:alert-feedback@drcnet.org)
    to let us know what actions you've taken and what responses
    you've gotten from your legislators or their staffs.

    First, though, DRCNet has just made up StopTheDrugWar.org
    pins, with our usual stop sign logo, that you can wear for
    the occasion. Visit http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ and
    contribute $10 or more and we'll send one to you by first-
    class mail for free. (If you can't afford the $10, we'll
    send you one anyway, for less or even for free if
    necessary.) If you want to send your donation by check,
    please e-mail us at membership@drcnet.org
    (mailto:membership@drcnet.org) and let us know, and include
    your mailing address so we can send your pin now. Also let
    us know if you would like more than one, and add an
    additional $1.00 for each (or whatever you can afford).
    Our mailing address for checks is: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402,
    Washington, DC 20036. Remember that donations to the Drug
    Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible, though
    you can make a tax-deductible donation if you prefer to the
    DRCNet Foundation, same address.

    Visit http://www.house.gov and http://www.senate.gov for
    links to your legislators' web sites (which generally
    include local and DC contact information), and for online
    tools for determining who they are if you don't already
    know, or call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-
    3121 and ask them. It's best to look presentable when you
    have your visit, so your legislators know that not only do
    you take this issue and the political process seriously,
    but other people who will vote in their races in the future
    take you and your opinions seriously.


    This is not a complete list of every relevant issue
    affecting drug policy, but only the ones that are the most
    "in play" at the moment.

    1) HEA: DRCNet, with Students for Sensible Drug Policy,
    has a major national campaign to repeal a provision of the
    Higher Education Act that delays or denies federal
    financial aid to students because of drug convictions.
    There is a likelihood that legislation will pass this year
    that will exempt would-be students who were not in school
    at the time of their offenses. While this is a positive
    development, it is important for Representatives and
    Senators to hear that constituents feel it is not enough
    and that only full repeal of the law will adequately
    resolve the issue. Bring a copy of our 2002 sign-on letter
    at http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/Letter/ that strongly
    makes this case, and include the impressive list of
    organizational endorsers.

    H.R. 685, sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank, has 62 cosponsors
    and would repeal the drug provision in full. Please urge
    your US Rep. to sponsor this bill if he or she is not
    already. (See http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/685.html for
    the latest cosponsor listing.) Visit
    http://www.raiseyourvoice.com for extensive information on
    this issue, to send an e-mail or fax to your Representative
    and Senators and the President, to make sure you are
    receiving district-specific HEA alerts as well as the
    general ones, and to get more involved in this campaign.
    Visit http://www.ssdp.org for information on student drug
    reform activism.

    2) MEDICAL MARIJUANA: There are currently two pro-medical
    marijuana bills in Congress, H.R. 2233, the States' Rights
    to Medical Marijuana Act, and H.R. 1717, the Truth in
    Trials Act. States' Rights would eliminate federal
    prohibition of medical marijuana in states that have passed
    medical marijuana laws. Truth in Trials would create a
    medical necessity defense for medical marijuana use in
    those states. We ask you to urge your US Rep. to cosponsor
    and support both of these bills. Visit
    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:HR02233:@@@P and
    to read the latest cosponsor listings.

    Also, there was a medical marijuana vote in the full House
    last month, and you should determine how your Rep. voted
    before you have your meeting. Visit
    http://www.drcnet.org/wol/july23-yesno.pdf (PDF) or
    http://www.drcnet.org/wol/july23-yesno.xls (Excel) or
    http://www.drcnet.org/wol/july23-yesno.txt (tab-delimited
    plain text) to find out. Visit
    http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/medicalmarijuana/ to send
    e-mails and faxes to Congress and the President in support
    of these bills.

    Visit http://www.mpp.org or http://www.norml.org for
    further resources for working on this issue.

    the House voted down an amendment to reduce drug war
    funding to the Colombia military. Now, the full Andean
    Counterdrug Initiative legislation has moved to the Senate.
    According to the Latin American Working Group, the Senate
    has no plans to even debate Colombia funding. DRCNet
    opposes the Andean drug war in its entirety, and we also
    support a call by the Latin American Working Group for
    Colombia aid in particular to be debated on the Senate
    floor. Please ask your Senators to vote against continued
    funding of the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, particularly
    Colombia drug war funding, and to support any amendments
    that would eliminate or scale it back, and to demand a real
    debate on the Colombian drug war on the Senate floor.

    The Andean drug war is not only harmful, it is futile and
    ridiculous. We have a graph that is useful for making that
    point (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/coca-growing.gif). The
    graph demonstrates how source country anti-cocaine efforts
    have only caused coca cultivation to shift from place to
    place, not to reduce it -- the amount of the shifts is far
    greater than the change in total coca growing, indicating
    the supply filling demand is the dominant force, not
    eradication programs.

    Also consider bringing a copy of "Bad Neighbor Policy:
    Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America," a new,
    concise but thorough overview of the issue by the Cato
    Institute's Ted Galen Carpenter -- visit
    http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ and donate $35 or more and
    we'll send you a free copy -- let us know if you're
    bringing it to a legislator visit and we'll send it first-
    class -- or donate $60 or more for two copies -- or $85 or
    more for three.

    Visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/stopthehelicopters/ to
    send e-mails and faxes to your Senators in opposition to
    the Andean Counterdrug Initiative and for links to further
    resources for working on this issue.

    4) RAVE ACT: Last year, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) obtained
    passage of the controversial Reducing Americans'
    Vulnerability to Ecstasy (RAVE) Act by sneaking it into the
    popular Amber Alert bill. The RAVE Act threatens to
    suppress freedom of speech and assembly by making club
    owners subject to draconian criminal penalties if patrons
    engage in illicit drug activity. Though Biden promised the
    law would not be used to stifle legitimate events, it has
    already happened. Please tell your Senators and your
    Representative that the RAVE Act is dangerous and
    undemocratic and should be repealed -- and that in the
    meantime they should exercise great scrutiny of law
    enforcers to prevent its further abuse. Bring a copy of
    our Week Online article on the shutdown by DEA threat of a
    NORML-SSDP fundraiser in Billings, Montana to make the
    point (http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/290/dearave.shtml).

    Visit http://www.drugpolicy.org for further resources for
    working on this issue.

    5) SENTENCING AND INCARCERATION: Thanks in part to
    draconian mandatory minimum sentencing and insufficiently
    flexible federal sentencing guidelines, our nation's
    prisons and jails hold more than half a million nonviolent
    drug offenders -- more than the number of people imprisoned
    for any criminal offense in the entire European Union, even
    though the EU has more people than the United States.
    Overall, the US has more than two million people
    incarcerated, the highest incarceration rate in the world.

    Earlier this year, Congress passed legislation known as the
    Feeney Amendment (now Sec. 401 of the PROTECT Act) that
    will strip even more discretion from judges by requiring
    the US Sentencing Commission to enact changes to the
    federal sentencing guidelines reducing the frequency of
    "downward departures," affecting sentencing across the
    board including for drug offenses. A measure introduced by
    Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Sen. Edward Kenney (D-MA), the
    JUDGES Act (S. 1086 and H.R. 2213), would repeal Sec. 401
    and other unjust provisions of the PROTECT Act.

    Please ask your Senators and your Representative to support
    the JUDGES Act and to go further and repeal mandatory
    minimum drug sentences in full. Visit
    http://www.famm.org/pdfs/FGsummer03final.pdf for further
    information on this legislation and visit
    http://www.famm.org for additional resources on this issue.

    That is our recommended federal lineup. We have not
    discussed DRCNet's overall philosophy on drug policy, which
    is that prohibition should be ended and drugs and the drug
    trade be brought within the control of law -- meaning some
    form of legalization, to use the more popular word for the
    concept. This doesn't mean you shouldn't talk about this
    when you have a meeting. That is a judgment call you have
    to make based on what you know about the legislator and on
    the flow of things when you are there. If you only have a
    short time, which is probable, you might only want to bring
    up the current legislative issues.

    If it seems like your Senator or Rep. (or more likely one
    of their staffers) is interested in having a dialogue on
    the larger issue, it may be worthwhile to bring it up. You
    can point to conservatives who have either called for
    legalization, such as National Review magazine
    (http://www.nationalreview.com/12feb96/drug.html), or who
    haven't taken that position but have raised the issue, like
    Indiana Rep. Dan Burton
    You can talk about how prohibition causes violence by
    creating the underground drug trade instead of a licit
    trade governed as other legal businesses are; how that
    underground trade reaches literally into the schools
    themselves, whereas this doesn't really happen with the
    legal drug alcohol; how fighting drugs through force is
    futile because supply fills demand and illegal drugs are so
    lucrative to sell; many other reasons you can find in the
    pages of our web site.

    If you do have such a conversation, it's a good idea at the
    end to point out that whether or not they agree with you,
    it's important to at least make positive progress on the
    smaller issues (such as the ones outlined above) on which
    you both agree.

    You have a few weeks to make these appointments, so start
    thinking about it and hopefully acting on it now! If you
    can't do it in time but still want to do this kind of
    activism in support of the cause, you can still have
    meetings with your legislators' staffers.

    Please forward this bulletin to other likely reform
    supporters, and please keep following DRCNet action alerts,
    sending the e-mails and faxes, making the phone calls and
    paying the visits. Though last month's two big votes were
    lost, they were closer than has ever happened before -- see
    our reports at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/297.shtml if you
    haven't already -- proof that you can make a difference and
    that the drug war can end, but only with your help.

    Again, please write to alert-feedback@drcnet.org
    (mailto:alert-feedback@drcnet.org) to let us know what
    actions you've taken this month and what you've learned
    about your legislators intentions and views. Thank you for
    standing with us against the drug war.


    To subscribe to DRCNet's weekly newsletter and action alert
    list, visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org and click on the
    "subscribe for free" button on the left of the page.

    DRCNet needs your support! Please visit our registration
    form at http://www.drcnet.org/donate/ to make a donation on
    our encryption-secured credit card form or to print out a
    form to send in with your contribution -- or just send
    checks or money orders to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402,
    Washington, DC 20036, or call your credit card info in to
    (202) 293-8340. We also accept contributions of stock; our
    broker is Ameritrade, (800) 669-3900, account # 772973012,
    DTC # 0188, company name Drug Reform Coordination Network,
    Inc. -- make sure to call or e-mail us to let us know and
    to specify whether the stocks are for the Drug Reform
    Coordination Network or the DRCNet Foundation.

    Donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which
    support our lobbying work, are not tax-deductible.
    Donations to the DRCNet Foundation, which primarily support
    our educational work, are deductible, same mailing address.
  2. *sigh*
    i wish we had a UK version of you.

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